Report | Whittaker-Rockhold title fight eyed for UFC 221

July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Robert Whittaker (blue gloves) is awarded the belt from UFC president Dana White after defeating Yoel Romero (red gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The UFC is making moves to bring a worthwhile main event to its trip to Perth, Australia, in February, reportedly eying a title fight between interim champion Robert Whittaker and former titleholder Luke Rockhold at UFC 220. Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting was the first to report the news.

It’s unclear what title Whittaker and Rockhold will be fighting for, with the interim championship or undisputed championship both seen as potential options.

At time of publication, Whittaker — an Australian national — is recognized as the interim champion, winning the placeholder crown at UFC 213 in July after beating top contender Yoel Romero. Then-undisputed champion Michael Bisping went on to defend his title against Georges St-Pierre several months later, losing his belt to the former 170-pound champion at UFC 217 in early November.

St-Pierre was expected to defend his 185-pound title against Whittaker, going as far as to claim a title defense was mandated by his contract with the UFC. He has since backed away from that commitment, though, noting a battle with ulcerative colitis may prevent him from competing at middleweight ever again. He recently expressed doubt that he would defend his title, potentially paving the way for the UFC to strip him of the belt and elevate Whittaker as the undisputed champion.

Rockhold has been eager to win his title back since suffering a stunning upset at the hands of Bisping at UFC 199 in June 2016.

Whittaker, meanwhile, has enjoyed a tremendous run at 185 pounds since moving up in weight from 170.

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